You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

Mother’s Day Holds Extra Special Meaning for Many Tennesseans

This Mother’s Day, women throughout Tennessee will be away from their loved ones and their homes, forced to evacuate because of massive flooding. Others will spend the weekend cleaning out their homes, piles of their precious belongings lining the curb.

Sherrie Yates and her 19-year-old daughter Kia will spend the day in an American Red Cross shelter in Nashville. They are among hundreds of people who have been sleeping on cots and waiting for the water to recede so they can return to what is left of their home.

Last Sunday, the Yates family woke up to find water rushing across their bedroom floors. Sherrie Yates is also the guardian of four nieces, and they all gathered on top of her bed as the water rose.

“It was traumatic for the kids,” Yates said. “They were crying, and they had to escape through a window. They’re never going to forget that.”

They were rescued by a neighbor in a boat, and when they arrived at the Red Cross shelter, none of them were wearing shoes.

“It felt so good when we got here. We were able to sit down, get dressed. The volunteers were here for us,” Yates said.

There was food waiting for them at the shelter, along with a safe place to rest. Yates found extended family members to take in the younger kids for a short while, but she and Kia have nowhere to go.

Despite all this, Yates is unendingly positive. “We have each other,” she said. “And now I have clothes to wear and shoes on my feet. I’m doing ok.”

Kia Yates is quiet and shy at first, but has her mother’s sparkling brown eyes. She’s eager to get home and make plans to return to college next semester.

Sherrie Yates is gregarious and kind—others in the shelter pause to squeeze her shoulder, shake her hand and give her a kiss on the cheek. She is a U.S. Air Force veteran who has traveled to Europe and Alaska. She has seen a lot in her lifetime, but this is the worst thing to ever happen to her. “The Red Cross has been wonderful,” she said.